Overseas National Airways Crew Friendship Site

ONA Airplane Show! ONA Al style! Read Al´s thrilling story of a near fatal accident -









My ONA and Other Aviation Experiences
by Al Quack

Al Quack in National uniform with daughter Susan

Jeri in EAL Uniform Miami 1959

Al in ONA Uniform 1966

Love on the job! Jeri & Al Quack celebrated 50
Years Wedding Anniversary in May 2009!
They met while both were flying for Eastern!

How My Third Near Fatal
Incident Took Place

(Mid Air Collision)

It happened while flying for Eastern Air Lines as a 
Flight Engineer on a Lockheed Electra (Turbo-Prop), 
in the spring of 1961. Our trip was scheduled Boston 
to Atlanta with an overnight layover, then back to 
Boston the next day. The flight down to Atlanta was 
on Easter Sunday and a beautiful clear blue sky with 
no clouds the whole way down. We were on an instrument 
flight plan and as we approached Atlanta our enroute 
(Radio) Center, gave us a VHF frequency to call 
Atlanta Center on, for our approach instructions. 

While following his instructions for heading and descend 
to altitude 150 (15,000’) and maintain that altitude. 
We also heard him talking to another Eastern flight, 
which turned out to be a DC-8 jet approaching Atlanta 
too for landing. This was our Co-Pilots leg to fly and 
he had the aircraft on autopilot, as was usual at this 
stage of flight. About this time a complete shadow came 
over our cockpit, we all looked at each other and said 
“what the”. 

As soon as the shadow came over our cockpit the Co-Pilot 
immediately reached up and grabbed the control yoke and 
clicked the autopilot off, then hit the right rudder 
pedal skidding the aircraft to the right. 

Within a second our whole windshield was completely 
full of an Eastern DC-8’s right wing, two jet engines 
exhausts one on either side of our windshield coming right 
down on us, as they were in a flat slow decent through our 
altitude. How we missed each other was a miracle and what 
our Co-Pilot did to evade it probably saved both aircraft 
from colliding in mid air and killing everybody on both 
planes. I could see how the Headlines would read after 
the accident, “Two Eastern Air Line planes Collide in 
Mid Air”, “And both on Instrument Flight Plans and on a 
Clear Day with no Clouds”. It was so close that I could 
even see the rivets (that’s close!!) on the DC-8 and the 
next thing I thought I would hear was crashing metal 
to metal. 

Within a few moments we all three realized just how lucky 
we were and nobody on either plane except us three, had 
any idea how close they just came to dying a few moments 
earlier, as the DC-8 passed down right over us going the 
same direction as us and nobody on either plane even if 
they were looking out their window, couldn’t of seen the 
plane below them or seen the plane above them. 

Our Captain got on the radio immediately asking Atlanta 
Center if they had us on radar? They said yes, but when 
the Captain asked him what position do you show us, he 
just stammered around not giving us any actual position. 
We surmised that this being Easter Sunday that probably 
the third string (very junior controllers) were on duty 
at the Atlanta Center and cleared the DC-8 down through 
our altitude not knowing where we were exactly, till 
maybe finally seeing two radar blips come together on 
his screen and then holding his breath. After we landed 
and secured our aircraft we all three walked over to the 
Eastern DC-8 on the ramp that we almost collided with at 
15,000 feet, a short time before. We got all three 
crewmembers out on the ramp and told them how we almost 
met them all at 15,000 feet and just how close it really 

Of course they didn’t see us at all as they were in a 
flat decent, but the Captain of the DC-8 said they thought 
something was wrong when we kept asking Atlanta Center 
if he had us on radar and what was our position if so. 

Our Captain then called Atlanta Center after we got to our 
Hotel and told them what happened and he didn’t want to 
get anybody in trouble there at the Center, but when he 
gets back to Boston tomorrow he has a few days off, so he 
told them he would come back down to talk to them about 
what almost happened and then all try to figure out what 
went wrong, so it doesn’t happen again. 

Well, I talked to my Captain a few weeks later and asked 
him what the outcome was after he went back down to 
Atlanta Center and talked to them. He said they must of 
thought he was coming down to get somebody fired, as a 
lot of the Center tapes of the conversations between them 
and us were erased and he received no help from anybody 
there. So it was a waste of his time and effort, but he 
only wanted to find out what went wrong and make sure it 
didn’t happen again.